One of the features of living in an increasingly multicultural society like Australia at this time of year is that we’re becoming more careful about wishing people a ‘Merry Christmas’ if they don’t actually celebrate Christmas. Which is fair enough – for many people it is simply the ‘holiday season’ or ‘summer break’ or many other different things. One thing we are all agreed upon, however, is that the type of Christmas we should wish someone is that they have a ‘merry’ one. This holiday, and this holiday alone, is to be merry. This is carefully distinguished from the New Year, which we wish would be not merry, but instead ‘happy’. As the song says, ‘We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy New Year’. Presumably a merry New Year sounds like too much fun for getting back to work and the business of life. And do we wish that Christmas would be happy? Often it isn’t, sometimes because of the excessive merriness of our celebrations. Anyway, all this is to say that as Christians it can be worth thinking about our feelings and experiences at Christmas and what we hope that we and others will feel. The first Christmas was a time of joy and wonder for those involved – Mary, Joseph, and the wise men. They felt joy because God was doing something amazing right in their midst. God was coming in to the world to save us.
That is why this week at St. Mark’s we wish you a joyful Christmas and a joyful New Year as well, as you remember the amazing things that Jesus has done for us.